Monday, November 23, 2009

Star Wars Imperial Commando #1: 501st by Karen Traviss

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The Clone Wars are over, but for those with reason to run from the new galactic Empire, the battle to survive has only just begun. . . .

The Jedi have been decimated in the Great Purge, and the Republic has fallen. Now the former Republic Commandos–the galaxy’s finest special forces troops, cloned from Jango Fett–find themselves on opposing sides and in very different armor. Some have deserted and fled to Mandalore with the mercenaries, renegade clone troopers, and rogue Jedi who make up Kal Skirata’s ragtag resistance to Imperial occupation. Others–including men from Delta and Omega squads–now serve as Imperial Commandos, a black ops unit within Vader’s own 501st Legion, tasked to hunt down fugitive Jedi and clone deserters. For Darman, grieving for his Jedi wife and separated from his son, it’s an agonizing test of loyalty. But he’s not the only one who’ll be forced to test the ties of brotherhood. On Mandalore, clone deserters and the planet’s own natives, who have no love for the Jedi, will have their most cherished beliefs challenged. In the savage new galactic order, old feuds may have to be set aside to unite against a far bigger threat, and nobody can take old loyalties for granted.

Sigh. Well, it was good while it lasted. This is Karen Traviss's last entry in the Star Wars Universe and it's a heartbreaker. First, because of the content - the tragic interplay in the aftermath of Order 66. The Mandalore, the clone survivors. Traviss does a tremendous job of taking the space fantasy hodgepodge of Lucas, and turning it into good MilSF, good hard SF, and thoughtful fiction. Secondly, it's a tragedy because Traviss is hanging up her StarWars pen, since Lucasfilm decided to move in directions that basically wipes out what she's built in the Republic Commando/Imperial Commando books. (Odd too, since she connected to that thread in her Legacy of the Force books - it remains to be seen what they are going to be doing.).

Good book all the same, and we'll always have Mando'a, the language and culture she created. I expect fans will not give it up.